Mission Manager Teams Up with the American Humane Association to Enhance Animal Rescue Efforts

SAN DIEGO, Sept. 24, 2014 – As part of its commitment to help first responders save lives and property, Mission Manager, Inc. is pleased to announce a collaboration with the American Humane Association aimed at enhancing the association’s Red Star® team’s nationwide animal rescue efforts.  Mission Manager, one of the most widely used cloud-based emergency management tools, has supported approximately 5,000 missions over the past three years.

Under the arrangement, Mission Manager will donate its software and a portion of its revenues to the American Humane Association. Mission Manager provides a turnkey solution for mission planning and real-time situational awareness.

Based on three core principals – preparation, readiness and execution – the software provides a team-based operational environment for day-to-day tasks and serves as an online command center during incidents. Mission Manager features automated reporting tools, multiple communications vehicles and extensive mapping capabilities.

team-31 American Humane Association’s Red Star volunteer responders are trained to help animals during or after a disaster, or as a result of animal cruelty – bringing vital skills in animal handling as well as necessary supplies and resources to set-up and operate temporary shelters and/or conduct field rescue missions.

“We’re excited to use Mission Manager, which will automate our Red Star Team’s administrative tasks and significantly enhance the volunteers’ rescue efforts. Until now, we’ve had to organize our team of nearly 200 nationwide volunteers by pen and paper,” said Paul Raybould, American Humane Association Chief Innovation Officer.

“With Mission Manager’s support, we’re able to do a better job than ever before in meeting the needs of animals during times of crisis.”

“Our reason for being is to help first responders save lives and property – whether their callout involves a missing person, an animal rescue effort or catastrophic event,” said Michael Berthelot, President and CEO of Mission Manager. “That’s why our collaboration with American Humane Association is such a fit. We’re proud to partner in the pursuit of saving animal lives.”

Manager is also sponsoring the Search and Rescue (SAR) category in the 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards gala on Sept. 27.  The finalist in that category – Bretagne (pronounced “Brittany”) who lives in Cypress, Texas – has made significant contributions to the SAR community over her long career. As seen on a special broadcast of The TODAY Show  on Sept. 11, she is one of only two surviving search and rescue dogs who worked at Ground Zero following the 2001 terror attacks. Bretagne was also deployed during the Olympic Winter Games in 2001 and Hurricane Rita in 2005.

Since retiring in 2008, she spends her time working as an ambassador to the SAR community and visiting schools. Bretagne is among eight amazing dogs that will be honored at a star-studded awards gala on Sept. 27 in Beverly Hills, where the top American Hero Dog for 2014 will be chosen based on more than one million votes by the American public. Watch this video to learn more about her remarkable story at

American Humane Association is the country’s first national humane organization – and the only one devoted to protecting both children and animals. The organization’s Red Star rescue work began in 1916 when they were asked by War Department to help save hundreds of thousands of horses that were wounded on the battlefields of World War I in Europe.

Since then, Red Star has been involved in virtually every major relief effort, from Pearl Harbor to 9/11, the earthquakes in Haiti and Japan, and Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy. During the past 10 years, Red Star has rescued, helped and sheltered more than 10,000 animals hurt in catastrophes and cruelty cases. To help, please visit

TODAY Show Recognizes Ground Zero Search Dog, Bretagne, on 9/11 Anniversary

September 11, 2014 — This morning, on the 13th Anniversary of 9/11, the TODAY Show aired a poignant segment featuring K9 Rescue Dog, Bretagne  — one of the last known 9/11 Ground Zero service dogs still alive — and owner Denise Corliss, who talked about the search efforts after the tragic event and memories that linger 13 years later.

See videotaped TV segment and article,  also posted below. American Humane Association CEO Dr. Robin Ganzert was also featured on the TODAY Show along with all eight of the AHA 2014 Hero Dog finalists!

As you may know, Mission Manager is a proud sponsor of Bretagne, who represents the search-and-rescue category in the 2014 American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards™ gala on Sept. 27. And speaking of Hero Dogs, don’t forget to vote for Bretagne before ballots close on Monday, September 15.


today show dog

Last known 9/11 Ground Zero search dog still lends a helping paw

Some heroes boast muscle and brawn. Others possess steely nerves and impeccable timing. But this hero is a little different.This one has feathery fur, a sunny smile, a calm nature and — for a dog — an uncanny ability to zero in on the people who need her most.

She’s a 15-year-old golden retriever named Bretagne, and she’s believed to be the last surviving search dog who worked at Ground Zero in New York City after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. (One other surviving search dog from 9/11, a 15-year-old English springer spaniel named Morgan, worked at Staten Island.)

For the first time since the recovery efforts after the attack, Bretagne returned this week to the site of the former World Trade Center complex with her longtime handler and owner, Denise Corliss of Cypress, Texas. They were joined by NBC News’ Tom Brokaw, who told their story on TODAY on Thursday morning, Sept. 11.

Corliss fought back tears as she gazed at the 9/11 Memorial’s enormous waterfalls and reflecting pools, which are surrounded by bronze panels bearing the names of the nearly 3,000 people killed in the attacks.“Seeing this kind of took my breath away a bit, similar to how the pile was the first time I saw it,” Corliss, 49, told “It’s so calm and peaceful now, unlike the chaos of before.“After 9/11, everybody — all of us — felt such sadness. We all wanted to help. I just felt so honored that we were able to respond.”

Bretagne the search dog

Photo Courtesy of Denise Corliss
Bretagne still loves solving search problems at a disaster training site for dogs in Texas. This photo was taken in July 2014.

This year, Bretagne (pronounced “Brittany”) is one of eight finalists for the American Humane Association’s annual Hero Dog Awards. Corliss is preparing to travel with Bretagne to Beverly Hills for a stroll down the red carpet on the night of the award ceremony in late September — a prospect that seems surreal to Corliss, considering how her journey with the dog began.

In the late ‘90s, Corliss, an electrical engineer, became fascinated by the work of disaster search dogs. She learned that civilians — volunteers who receive no pay at all and work and travel at their own expense — can undergo rigorous training with their dogs. If they make the cut, a dog/handler team can support federal emergency response efforts at disaster sites around the United States.

Bretagne the search dog

Courtesy of Denise Corliss
Bretagne has never really felt ready to retire. She still gets excited about putting on a service vest.

In the fall of 1999, Corliss brought home Bretagne, a wriggly 8-week-old puppy who had much to learn and wanted to learn it.

“I was so excited about doing this, but I didn’t have the appreciation of how life-changing it would be,” Corliss recalled. “It took 20 to 30 hours a week easily to stay on top of training. This is what I did when I wasn’t at work.”

In 2000, Corliss received news that thrilled her: She and Bretagne qualified as official members of Texas Task Force 1. This meant the pair had what it takes to scour a disaster site and find survivors buried in the rubble.

An exhausted Bretagne takes a break at Ground Zero in September 2001.

Andrea Booher / FEMA News Photo
An exhausted Bretagne takes a break at Ground Zero in September 2001.

What they never could have anticipated was the site of their first deployment: The twisted pile of steel beams, concrete and ash where the World Trade Center once stood. It was a harrowing assignment for the most seasoned rescue workers, and it could be a frustrating one for search dogs because there were no human survivors to be found — only human remains.

“I really believed we could find somebody — anybody! — if we could just get to the right void space,” Corliss said. “But our reality was much different. We found all various kinds of remains, some recognizable, others not so much.”

Bretagne persevered through nearly two weeks of 12-hour shifts at Ground Zero. On her very first search, she had to balance precariously on a wet metal beam — and she slipped. But she recovered quickly, pulling herself back up onto the beam with her front paws and continuing to sniff intently as if nothing had happened.

Bretagne and Denise Corliss take a quick nap amid the rubble of the World Trade Center in 2001.

Courtesy of Denise Corliss
Bretagne and Denise Corliss take a quick nap amid the rubble of the World Trade Center in 2001.

Even though she had just turned 2 — an age when many canines relish romping, chewing and making mischief — Bretagne kept offering herself up to grim-faced first responders. On one occasion, Bretagne left Corliss’ side with urgency and hurried toward a sullen firefighter sitting on the ground. Concerned, Corliss implored Bretagne to come back, sit and stay — to no avail.

“I was surprised that she wasn’t listening to me, but she really wasn’t — it was like she was flipping me the paw,” Corliss said. “She went right to that firefighter and laid down next to him and put her head on his lap.”

Denise Corliss and Bretagne the search dog at Ground Zero in 2001.

Courtesy of Denise Corliss
Denise Corliss and Bretagne take a break together at Ground Zero in 2001.

Dr. Cindy Otto, a veterinarian who cared for 9/11 search dogs at Ground Zero, said the 300 or so dogs who worked the pile brought much more to the job than their capable noses.

“You’d see firefighters sitting there, unanimated, stone-faced, no emotion, and then they’d see a dog and break out into a smile,” Otto recalled. “Those dogs brought the power of hope. They removed the gloom for just an instant — and that was huge because it was a pretty dismal place to be.”

Dog handler Roseann DeLuca and her dog Logan, a female German shepherd who searched the pile at Ground Zero after the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

Courtesy of Dr. Cindy Otto
Dog handler Roseann DeLuca is pictured with her dog Logan, a female German shepherd who searched the pile at Ground Zero. Veterinarian Cindy Otto loves the smiles on the workers’ faces in the presence of the dog.

Otto spent years tracking the health of dozens of 9/11 working dogs after the terrorist attacks. Among her favorite findings: Search and rescue dogs tend to live longer than other dogs.

“They have a bond with their handlers, they have purpose, they have physical fitness — it’s all really good for the dog and for the person who does this work,” Otto said. “Even on terrible assignments when they’re finding remains instead of survivors — can you imagine the closure they provided for families?”

Bretagne swimming in a pool in her backyard in Texas.

Courtesy of Denise Corliss
Denise Corliss installed a pool in her backyard to help her aging dog Bretagne maintain mobility by swimming daily.

Her work with the 9/11 dogs inspired Otto to launch the Penn Vet Working Dog Center at the University of Pennsylvania on Sept. 11, 2012. Through the center, dogs like Bretagne and Morgan — the last two surviving search dogs from 9/11 still participating in Otto’s health study — continue to be monitored, and puppies get trained to sniff out everything from explosives to narcotics to diseases to live humans buried in rubble.

As a tribute, the puppies in training at the Working Dog Center all get named after 9/11 dogs. Bretagne’s namesake, dubbed “Bretagne 2,” recently moved in with a man who has Type 1 diabetes. She paws at his leg to alert him when his blood-sugar levels are out of normal range and he needs to eat.

“That makes me so proud!” Corliss said. “I’m so humbled that they would find Bretagne worthy to have a puppy named after her who’s carrying on the tradition of the working dog.”

Dogs Bretagne 1 and Bretagne 2 together

Courtesy of Penn Vet Working Dog Center
Bretagne got to meet her namesake, Bretagne 2, at the Penn Vet Working Dog Center on Sept. 11, 2012.

In the years that followed 9/11, Bretagne and Corliss deployed together to numerous disaster sites, including Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita and Hurricane Ivan. Bretagne retired from formal search work at age 9 — but today, even though she’s roughly 93 in human years, she still loves to work. When school’s in session, she dons a service vest and prances purposefully through a local elementary school, where she helps first-graders and children with special needs learn how to read out loud.

“She still has this attitude of putting her paw up and saying, ‘Put me in, coach!’” Corliss said. “She absolutely loves it.”

Bretagne helps kids read at school

Courtesy of Denise Corliss
Bretagne helps students practice reading out loud at an elementary school in Texas.

And just as she did for that firefighter and other rescue workers at Ground Zero, she tends to sense which students and teachers are having rough days.

“I’ve seen Bretagne almost select a child,” said Shelley Swedlaw, a search dog handler and a former special education director who accompanies Bretagne to reading sessions. “She’s just really good about knowing who needs that kind, canine attention.”

Bretagne the dog helping kids read at school

Courtesy of Denise Corliss
Many children feel comfortable reading aloud to a friendly, supportive dog.

At disaster sites, Bretagne’s presence always helped Corliss feel like she had “a secret advantage”: “I had my best friend sitting alongside me,” she said. This, in turn, helped Corliss learn important lessons from response work.

“Deployments put things back into perspective very quickly,” she said. “Every time I go on one, things that seemed to be really important before I left become less so.

“What do you think people are thinking about just before? It’s probably not work. They’re thinking about family. They’re thinking about love.”

This article was originally published on Sept. 10, 2014 at 5:03pm. 

Online voting for the Hero Dog Awards continues through Sept. 15.

 The 2014 American Hero Dog will be announced on Sept. 27 and broadcast on the Hallmark Channel on Oct. 30.

Mission Manager Plays a Critical Role for the N.J. Ramapo Rescue Dog Association

When Dave Hubbell joined the Ramapo Rescue Dog Association three years ago, he discovered that its first responders relied on a pen and paper at Basecamp to manage their K9 search and rescue missions. A quick Google search led him to Mission Manager – the software tool that would forever change the way they would do business. Mission Manager gave the New Jersey-based organization the tools they needed to fulfill their mission – to locate missing persons and save lives – efficiently and effectively.

“We love Mission Manager. It plays a huge role in helping us manage our equipment, plan our training sessions and organize our mobilizations,”said Hubbell, a retired corporate pilot who serves as the group’s Mission Manager Administrator and radio operator. Hubbell also utilizes Mission Manager for NJ DSTAR ham operators group and as a trial for the Sparta Township Community Emergency Response Team.

Hubbell is among 25 volunteers with the Ramapo Rescue Dog Association, which utilizes air-scenting German Shepherds to help locate missing individuals in wilderness and disaster situations. A handful of its volunteers and their canines were on-hand at the national NASAR conference, June 4-6, in New Jersey to showcase their organization and attend various educational and training sessions.

“Being a volunteer combines several loves – working with your best friend who’s devoted to you and also having the opportunity to serve the community. We all have a great passion for what we do,” said Penny Sullivan, the group’s operational leader who was among the founding members.

The association, established in 1971, is a member of the National Association of Search and Rescue, and the Search and Rescue Council of New Jersey. Since then, the association has conducted numerous searches throughout the Eastern and Central United States, including finding missing persons in wilderness and urban areas, crime scene evidence recovery, and large scale disasters such as Ground Zero.

“With the proliferation of GPS apps on cell phones, we have fewer and fewer missing persons cases these days, so unfortunately, many of our missions involve locating human remains,” said Sullivan. “It is extremely rewarding, in either case, when we do find a missing person –thanks to the help of our K9 friends.”

It is not easy – or cheap – becoming certified as a Search and Rescue K9 team, she noted. Both the dog and handler must complete two years of intensive training and pay for their own expenses, including gas and equipment. The training consists of first responder medical training; K9 medical training; and map, compass and GPS navigation training. The area of training is in wilderness, urban and water rescue, both live and cadaver.

The association’s operational teams and other volunteers continue training twice monthly to keep their skills sharp. As with the actual deployments, the volunteers rely on Mission Manager to organize their training sessions. The software helps them develop the mock scenarios, including checking-in and checking-out personnel, creating subject profiles, setting up task assignments and mapping out the search areas.

In fact, Hubbell says the most frequent uses of Mission Manager are the forms, maps and tasking capabilities. “We certainly put it to good use for our searches – particularly the mapping functions, which are critical when operating in rugged wilderness terrains,” he said. “Along these lines, I would like to commend the developer, Mike Baily. The product is excellent and can only get better.”

For more information about the Ramapo Rescue Dog Association, see